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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 08-28-2012, 10:58 AM
jvonhorn jvonhorn is offline
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SES light

I have a 2003 540I and yesterday the Service Engine Soon Light came on..car was running very rough. I checked the stored codes and the code showing was something like "ignition-fuel shutoff" An independent shop has it right now and they say that three of the cylinders are not firing...plugs are fine ect...any ideas?
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  #2  
Old 08-28-2012, 12:09 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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What exactly were the P-codes you read? If they were "random multiple misfires," and the car has more than 100k on it, the cats may be clogged.
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  #3  
Old 08-28-2012, 01:23 PM
jvonhorn jvonhorn is offline
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The code was multiple misfires, fuel cutoff. The service tech said it was three cylinders that were not firing.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:54 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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Did he say why?
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  #5  
Old 08-28-2012, 04:27 PM
jvonhorn jvonhorn is offline
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The code was PO363. They are going to start taking the intake apart unless i can come up with a better solution...quoting me 350-2000 for fixing this....HELP!
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  #6  
Old 08-29-2012, 11:20 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
They are going to start taking the intake apart
Truthfully, whenever I head something like "I have a misfire ... so ... they want to take the engine apart", I think to myself:

Here's a guy who appears to be clueless, yet, he hasn't done any real homework on the problem. All he hears is the shop telling him "without looking deeper, I can't give you a price; after looking deeper, it could be something simple or it could be a blown engine" and then he comes to us (at first w/o even a DTC) and claims (seemingly almost against his will) they are going to take things apart.

But then, I see the rest of the sentence:
Quote:
They are going to start taking the intake apart unless i can come up with a better solution
And then I think:
Oh oh. Here's a guy who is faced with a typical repair, where ... he is lost how to proceed ... and he feels at the mercy of the shop (as do we all when we are forced to bring it there) ... so he escalates the problem to us ... making the description so dire ... claiming that the shop will (seemingly without his permission) "start taking the intake apart" (which, by the way, is a mere bunch of hoses) unless ... and here's the kicker ... unless he comes up with a better solution.

Hmmmm.... I'm pretty sure the shop isn't 'really' waiting for 'his' solution.

What's really happening is quite normal. It's fear. It's panic. It's laziness. It's lack of information.

Methinks what he's really telling us is:
a) I have a misfire (3 cylinders)
b) I'm clueless how to diagnose that misfire
c) The shop told me it could be anything from a hose to a blown engine
d) They told me they can't tell unless they dig deeper, starting with the intake
e) That's gonna cost me a few hundred bucks just to start digging
f) And, if they find a blown engine, it will cost me a few thousand bucks
g) They shop wants me to ether OK the diagnostic work or take the car home
h) What should I do?

Methinks the OP just doesn't know where to start and simply hears the shop telling him it could be something simple (i.e., $300, including diagnostics) or a blown engine (i.e., $2,000). In essence, the shop told him everything and nothing in the same breath.

Given that, and speaking to the crowd, I ask: how do we best try to help this OP?

Suffice to say, if the OP doesn't do his own misfire diagnostics, he really can't get out the door for less than a few hundred bucks in diagnostics (out here, just to bring the vehicle in for a look-see at Ray's Automotive costs $150, and to replace a single hose is another $100 to $200 for each hose). And, as we all know, if he does have a blown engine (did it overheat recently?), he's hosed.

Re-reading the OP's post to try to figure out how to help him most efficiently, I see the OP seems mostly to be complaining about the shop wanting to dig deeper (which 'someone' has to do), which will easily cost a few hundred bucks.

I would too ... but he either pays the diagnostics or does the diagnostics himself. There really aren't any other options for him. I've been through misfire diagnostics myself. So have all of us.

Misfires are a basic part of owning a BMW.

Given that, here's what I suggest for the OP (and, good news! It's free!).

Dear OP:
Roll up your sleeves, put nitrile gloves on, get a flashlight, bring your computer along, and start peering at your engine in all the likely places, one by one, for that misfire.

For an idea (and picture) of all the likely places to visually inspect, start here:
- How to diagnose a typical BMW E39 engine misfire (1)
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Last edited by bluebee; 08-29-2012 at 11:44 PM.
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  #7  
Old 08-31-2012, 09:48 AM
jvonhorn jvonhorn is offline
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misfire

Well I suppose I deserved that on some level...I really have read alot about what the errors mean and how to diagnose them...The problem is this is my daily driver and I have to work so I do not have a ton of time to spend in the garage trying to figure this out.

I figure a decent shop has the tools and experience to diagnose the problem faster that I can. I have used this forum to diagnose and fix other problems myself..(radiator, heater core, alternator, water pump, fan, everything in the front suspension and steering linkages, brakes, oil changes) it is a 2003 540i with 110K on it...should all of this stuff really fail?

Anyway, the shop has it in the back and they are not doing anything while they work on easier stuff. I have used this shop for 10 years on 5 vehicles and they are ethical but they dont really know BMWs..its like a Carx kind of place but I refuse to take it to BMW and pay their labor and part rates. They also made it kind of clear that they would rather work on 2005 or newer cars.

I dont know if this helps but the the car sat for a month while I was out of town (in a garage) and I drove it two days when I got back. I shut it down to go into a shop and when I started it up the SES light came on and it ran very rough.
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  #8  
Old 08-31-2012, 10:09 AM
jvonhorn jvonhorn is offline
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New info: Just talked to the shop and they said that cylinders 1, 2, and 5 were not firing. They also said there was oil in the intake. They are replacing the ccv valve. That was number 24 on the list which I shared with the shop a couple of days ago.
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  #9  
Old 08-31-2012, 11:26 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
Well I suppose I deserved that on some level...
Thanks for understanding the point.

Let's help you.

The place to start is to realize that misfires are part of owning a BMW. At least for many of us.

So how do 'we' handle a misfire?

First thing we do is spend $25 to buy a cheap code reader. I suggest you buy this now as you'll need it in the future anyway:
- Cheapest CAN OBDII scanner on the net that reads DTCs, pending codes, & clears codes

You'll have it at your door by early next week.

Second thing we do is isolate the problem (starting with the specific DTC from that code reader).

You'll notice there can be dozens of possible problems in the misfire thread:
- How to diagnose a BMW E39 engine misfire (1)

But each one has a 'symptom' (again, starting with the DTC) that narrows down the possible culprits.

Based on those symptoms (which start with the DTC), the actual misfire diagnostics can become specific ... so that's why you were given the advice above.

For example, the most common cause of a BMW misfire is a crack in a cheap rubber hose. (ask me how I know) ... but again ... whether you're looking for this really depends on what the codes are telling you (e.g., a lean condition is a dead givaway).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
The problem is this is my daily driver and I have to work so I do not have a ton of time to spend in the garage trying to figure this out.
We all understand. In fact, if it helps, you'll note in the threads I referenced, it took me more than a year, elapsed time, to diagnose a lean-condition misfire, which turned out to be due to a couple of cracked hoses. It was only the past-due inspection that got me to finally build a $30 smoke machine to locate the leaks.
- How to make your own smoke machine (1)

So, the good news is that you can continue to drive your daily driver (unless the SES light is blinking) until you figure this out or until you reach your inspection date.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
I figure a decent shop has the tools and experience to diagnose the problem faster that I can.
There is absolutely no doubt of that. But, you can't then, in the same breath, complain about the cost and then say the shop is waiting for you to come up with a better solution.

Let's forget about that and get you moving forward. You must decide whether to DIY or not.
- Here is a cut-and-paste response written to a 19-year-old college kid trying to explain why DIY works best.
- And another one written to a 17-year old kid with a badly maintained BMW.
- Yet another, to a 21-year old, who bought a BMW with unexpected issues who said "I can't work on a car".

Read those above. And then decide whether or not you're going to DIY this problem.

If you decide to DIY, you'll be in good company here.

If you decide to take it to the shop, we understand. You can still get advice here, but, really, the shop will still charge you an arm and a leg. It's just the way it is.

You pay in your time. Or you pay in your money.

BTW, the tools are free:
- What to tell newbies who think they don't have time, money, expertise, or tools to DIY & why the tools are free (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
should all of this stuff really fail?
Sigh. My sentiments exactly. In my personal opinion, BMW knows how to design a power train and suspension, but they do not know how to design a car.

I'd suggest, once this misfire is resolved, you start with typical maintenance tasks:
- Tips for newbies on what maintenance to perform on an E39 (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
they are ethical but they dont really know BMWs
For a misfire, it probably doesn't matter. They'd follow the same isolation procedure you would. The key difference is they will charge you for their time and tools but all you get out of the deal is the car is fixed in the end.

That's fine. But if you DIY, you get to keep the tools, and you always save money, and the time expended 'may' not be much different than the amount of time you have to work (+ taxes) in order to pay the shop for their time (this depends on your current hourly rate or the value of your weekends to you).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
I dont know if this helps but the the car sat for a month while I was out of town (in a garage) and I drove it two days when I got back.
The misfire diagnosis is still the same procedure. You start with generic data. You begin to isolate the problem. You get more specific data. You isolate more. You test. You buy parts (usually). You then resolve. You report back to the team.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
I shut it down to go into a shop and when I started it up the SES light came on and it ran very rough.
It's in the threads I already quoted so don't be fooled by the part about it running roughly. What happens is the fuel supply turns off when a misfire is greater than 1 in 200 RPM.

So, while you're waiting for your $25 scanner to arrive, when/if it runs roughly again, simply pull over to the side of the road, remove the key from the ignition, wait a few seconds, and then turn it back on.

If it runs fine, then the fuel shutoff is what made it run roughly. That doesn't solve your misfire - but it shows that the running rough is the secondary effect of the misfire.

What you're looking for is the primary cause of the misfire, which starts with DTCs, and then proceeds down the diagnostic tree in sequence depending on whether it's a single cylinder misfire or a multiple cylinder misfire.

Oh, speaking of that.... most of us read the codes, then we CLEAR the codes. Then we start fresh by looking at the FIRST code that pops up (often as a pending code).

That is another trick of isolating the cause because, after a while, you can have a DOZEN codes (ask me how I know), which is too overwhelming to debug all at the same time!

Moving forward, please do this & report back to the team:
- Buy the cheap scan tool tool (trust me on that advice - but - even if I'm wrong, you're only out $25)
- Clear the codes & drive for a day or two
- Check the codes & report back to us what you see

Armed with the codes, you can then search to see what other people did who had the same codes on the same vehicle.

For example, I just checked my DTC code list for my engine computer, and I don't seem to find a P0363 in my listing; but googling finds quite a few listings for BMWs, e.g.,
- What is BMW OBDII P0363
- 2003 BMW 540 P0363 Misfire Detected - Fueling Disabled
- BMW 745I: im working..fuel problem, the codes are p0363
etc.
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 08-31-2012 at 12:30 PM.
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  #10  
Old 08-31-2012, 11:40 AM
jvonhorn jvonhorn is offline
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Wow, great stuff... I do like working on the car and when I have the time its enjoyable Yeah the SES light is blinking and three cylinders are not firing at all so I really cannot drive it all. I called the shop and they said that there was oil in in the intake and that it was probably(maybe?) a ccv valve. We will see.
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  #11  
Old 08-31-2012, 12:35 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
there was oil in in the intake and that it was probably(maybe?) a ccv valve
If it's the CCV, arm yourself with the information in this thread (which has tons of pictures):
- How to test the crankcase ventilation (aka CCV, CVV, PCV, CPV, & OSV) pressure regulating valve system (1)


Also make sure they check the dipstick:
- How to test, clean, & redesign the original BMW dipstick guide tube to prevent CCV vent clogs (1)



In particular, see Fudman's initial response to a similar question in post #8 & a more detailed response in post #19 of that thread, which answers, in part, the question:
Q: Could a clogged CCV or dipstick tube really cause 3 cylinders to misfire consistently?
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Last edited by bluebee; 08-31-2012 at 12:49 PM.
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  #12  
Old 08-31-2012, 01:23 PM
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doru doru is online now
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The v8 engine has a totally different CCV design - it's a cyclone. The vacuum is created different than the i6. the dipstick goes straight into the oil sump, nothing is attached to it - again totally different design.

If one bank, ie cyl 1-4 or the other cyl 5-8 would misfire due to oil contamination, isn't it logical to have 4 cylinders misfiring and NOT 3?
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  #13  
Old 09-03-2012, 01:22 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post
the dipstick goes straight into the oil sump, nothing is attached to it
Thanks for this interesting information (and for the cross reference with more details on the other more-well-trafficked thread!).
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  #14  
Old 09-06-2012, 08:10 AM
jvonhorn jvonhorn is offline
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Well I ha sveome bad news to report. The shop say that there is no compression in one cylinder and 2 are around 60. He thinks that putting money into the engine maybe a bad idea. A used engine is 2500 online and repairing the whole thing would likely run me 4K....
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Old 09-06-2012, 11:16 AM
edjack edjack is offline
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You noted that this is not a BMW shop. If you want a second opinion, join your local Checkbook, and locate on their web site a well-rated BMW specialist in their automotive repair shop ratings. From what you report, this shop is not terribly interested in solving the problem.

You mentioned that this is a daily driver. How have you been getting around when it's in the shop?

Low compression can be caused by sticky valves, esp if oil changes have not been frequent enough. Twin Cities climate is a good one for gunking up an engine, e.g., short low-speed trips in the winter.

You don't state the mileage on the car. How often do you change oil, and what kind of oil do you use? Before you do anything else, try a Rislone treatment. Unless this engine has 300k on it, it's not even close to being worn out.

Perhaps someone with Seafoam experience can chime in with comments.
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Last edited by edjack; 09-06-2012 at 11:21 AM.
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  #16  
Old 09-08-2012, 11:33 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edjack View Post
join your local Checkbook
Here are the related links:
- Finding a reputable BMW indy in your area (1) (2) & the consumers' checkbook method of finding a good mechanic (1) & repairpal labor/job/shop rates by zip code (1) & other things to consider replacing while you're already there (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by edjack View Post
Low compression can be caused by sticky valves,
These links should help:
- Summary advice to provide users who suspect a major engine repair due to overheating (1) (2) (3) (4) & how to test an engine for a blown head gasket, cracked heads, a warped block, stripped head bolt threads, cam seizures, contaminated bearings, coolant hydrolock, or piston, ring, or valve damage (1) (2) & what are the major factors in deciding whether to rebuild the engine, replace the engine, or sell the car (1) & a DIY for replacing the I6 M54 head gasket (1) (2) & replacing the V8 M62TU head gasket (1) & why these engines are so prone to heat-related damage in the first place (1) & welding the crack between cylinder #3 and the water jacket on the exhaust side (1) & what engine swaps are most recommended (1) (2) (3) & where to obtain a new or rebuilt head (1) replacement short block or long block (1) (2) & how to lift & remove the engine (1) & the most recent real-world results from the last 50 people faced with similar blown engine problems from which this advice came from (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18) (19) (20) (21) (22) (23) (24) (25) (26) (27) (28) (29) (30) (31) (32) (33) (34) (35) (36) (37) (38) (39) (40) (41) (42) (43) (44) (45) (46) (47) (48) (49) (50)

Quote:
Originally Posted by edjack View Post
Perhaps someone with Seafoam experience can chime in with comments.
Lots of info on seafoam here:
- What is Seafoam motor treatment, what does it do, where do you put it, and how does it work (1)
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  #17  
Old 09-10-2012, 03:13 PM
jvonhorn jvonhorn is offline
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They wrapped up the car and I am bringing it home. I cleaned out the garage to make room and I am going to try to diagnose and repair myself...they charged me $200 for the work they did...

The car is a 2003 E39 540i with 110,000 miles on it.

The car was using a small amount of oil but not that much...does not leak oil. Occasionally it would hang in the start mode...but I would turn it off and then it worked the next time. Sometimes it would blow out a fair amount of white smoke when starting but not after it had been running and not all the time...just sometimes...

The shop said there was a ton of oil and gunk in the intake...not sure exactly where.

There is a clip missing from the intake hose right before the MAS...its been missing for awhile.

I can limp the car home but it runs very rough and the SES light is flashing...is it safe to drive the 3 miles home like that?

I will do my research and check this forum daily. I will also post pics.

Maybe we can get it running again?

I posted an ad on craigslist and found someone who would rent me their spare car for $100 a week so I have something to drive. I have nights evenings weekends to work on it.
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:43 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
they charged me $200 for the work they did...
Did you get a written estimate of what they suggested for a repair? If so, please post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
Sometimes it would blow out a fair amount of white smoke ...shop said there was a ton of oil and gunk in the intake...not sure exactly where.
I would suggest you run the simple vacuum test proposed in the CCV test thread already referenced. Doesn't cost more than $5 for the tubing (the water is free).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
There is a clip missing from the intake hose right before the MAS...
I'd snap a photo of it and post it here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
I can limp the car home but it runs very rough and the SES light is flashing...is it safe to drive the 3 miles home like that?
Wow. You're a risk taker. The flashing SES indicates the misfire is so bad that expensive stuff (e.g., the cats) can be damaged.

Do you really want to risk that for 3 miles?
Do you have AAA?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
I will also post pics.
Yes. You need two things:
a) Pics
b) Run the suggested tests

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
Maybe we can get it running again?
As long as compression and other major gotchas are there, yes. It is 'just' a misfire (although I admit, my big misfire took me a year elapsed time to locate.)

I'd start, one by one, read the threads already referenced and the suggestions already provided. Then, run the tests on your car & report results back here.

Nobody can help you without datapoints.
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  #19  
Old 09-11-2012, 05:43 AM
jvonhorn jvonhorn is offline
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The shop did not give a quote to go forward, I get the distinct impression that they don't want to go any further.
I will run the test although the CCV was replaced by the aforementioned mechanic to no affect. I can get the car towed if necessary so that's not a problem. The mechanic did say that one cylinder had no compression and two were low, those were the ones that were not firing.

I get the car back tomorrow.
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Old 09-11-2012, 10:50 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
The shop did not give a quote to go forward, I get the distinct impression that they don't want to go any further.
Hmmm... ok. That's weird. Generally, the shop says "you need this and that and it will cost this much".

That's why you paid the $200 for the diagnosis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
I will run the test although the CCV was replaced by the aforementioned mechanic to no affect.
Hmmm... OK. Well, the test is still good to see if you have a vacuum leak - but really, I would have expected the mechanic to run that test and to tell you if you had one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
I can get the car towed if necessary so that's not a problem.
If you do drive it, remember you 'can' shut it down, and the fuel shutoff will reset. Of course, that's only a temporary measure - but I used that method for a year with success (my SES was solid though).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
The mechanic did say that one cylinder had no compression and two were low
Hmmmm... that's bad news. Really bad news I think. Make sure you get, for your $200 diagnostic fee, a write up of the compression numbers, and specifically, which cylinder (was it #3?) had no compression (see why below).

Things that can kill a cylinder are overheating, water in the brake booster hydrolock, low oil level, & DISA disintegration (all of which are well known topics covered in this forum in gory detail).

You may need these threads:
- Summary advice to provide users who suspect a major engine repair due to overheating (1) (2) (3) (4) & how to test an engine for a blown head gasket, cracked heads, a warped block, stripped head bolt threads, cam seizures, contaminated bearings, coolant hydrolock, or piston, ring, or valve damage (1) (2) & what are the major factors in deciding whether to rebuild the engine, replace the engine, or sell the car (1) & a DIY for replacing the I6 M54 head gasket (1) (2) & replacing the V8 M62TU head gasket (1) & why these engines are so prone to heat-related damage in the first place (1) & welding the crack between cylinder #3 and the water jacket on the exhaust side (1) & what engine swaps are most recommended (1) (2) (3) & where to obtain a new or rebuilt head (1) replacement short block or long block (1) (2) & how to lift & remove the engine (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvonhorn View Post
I get the car back tomorrow.
For 'my' $200, I'd insist on a written report, with numbers.

You want to know exactly what the compression was for all cylinders, you want to know manifold vacuum readings, you want to know what was tested and what was replaced, you want to know if the DISA was inspected, and whether the cooling system was tested, of course you want to know if there is a crack in your block, and whether the valves are shutting tightly, etc.

And, just as importantly, you want to know what was tested as good.

The mechanic, by now, should know all that (and more).
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 09-11-2012 at 10:57 AM.
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  #21  
Old 09-12-2012, 06:44 AM
jvonhorn jvonhorn is offline
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Location: St Paul
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 10
Mein Auto: 2003 540i
The shop said without going further into the engine there was no way they would be able to quote a firm price and that going further was going to cost 300-500 more to diagnose and it still might mean a replacement engine and that would run 4-5K installed.

So I am bringing the car home today and putting it in the garage and then i am going to methodically begin going through everything.

I have never done any serious engine, work and I can tell you from the reading I am doing that I am intimidated. I am mechanically inclined and I like figuring things out but I am not a gearhead and I have normal hand tools, no torque wrenches, ect...

there are a number of other things wrong with the car too but they are mostly minor...radio is not working, sunroof pop up is rattling, rear suspension issue, new tires needed in front, windshield washer reservoir fluid hose broken, minor coolant leak, water in rear floor wells after a heavy rain...
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  #22  
Old 09-12-2012, 08:46 AM
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bricas45 bricas45 is offline
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Location: New Hampshire
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,038
Mein Auto: '01 540i6, '94 325is
First off... You have a pretty low milage 540. Major engine issues are rare and I doubt you will have to replace the motor!

1.

Get yourself INPA and pull the BMW codes. A standard obd reader may not help you here. eBay "INPA" and you will see the devices and then get the SW if you need a copy PM me.

2.
Run a compression test. Do dry first and report all 8 numbers. If you have bad numbers then run a wet compression test. Brand new engines are around 200psi...tired engines are around 150psi... Bad engines are less than 120psi. When you do the test look closely at the plugs and note if they are covered in crap. If these come back good...you don't have a bad engine.
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